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Julia Alston Gourdine papers

Identifier: AMN 1130

Collection Overview

The collection is divided into four series:

1. Biographical Records contains report cards, commencement exercises, event programs, scrapbooks, certificates, photographs (mostly unidentified) newspaper clippings and other school related materials pertaining to Julia Gourdine's high school and college education and career as an elementary school educator. This series also holds brief correspondence and materials reflecting Gourdine's participation in local and national clubs, sororities and organizations including the Order of the Eastern Star, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Also included are documents and photographs (mostly unidentified) from a dissembled scrapbook, pertaining to her family, mostly of Gourdine's mother, Addie Middleton Alston; sisters, Adeline and Kathleen Alston, husband, Robert Holmes Gourdine, Jr. and son, Robert H. Gourdine, III.

2. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC contains documents that are reflective of Gourdine's duties as secretary for Emanuel's Senior Trustee Board. Included are materials relating to Emanuel's history; service and special event booklets and programs. Administrative papers contains meeting agendas and minutes; memorandums and correspondence; committees and clubs activities; financial reports; banking documents; invoices and receipts; insurance policies; and documents relating to church renovations and real estate. Of note is a mimeographed copy of "Songs of Freedom," a collection of spirituals, gospel, and folk songs sung during the Civil Rights Movement. This copy was owned and signed by Septima Poinsette Clark and used during her time at the Highlander Folk School, (Monteagle, Tennessee, circa 1960). Also included is the original signed petition from Emanuel Church members requesting the reinstatement of Clark's retirement pension from the State of South Carolina Department of Education, (1979).

3. African Methodist Episcopal Church Associations and Affiliations holds materials collected by Gourdine and her mother Addie M. Alston. The sub-series of the Women's Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church contains workbooks, reports, programs, certificates, and photographs from annual conventions. The second sub-series include materials (programs, convention minute booklets, A.M.E. journals and publications) from other A.M.E. churches, in South Carolina and in other states.

4. Artifacts contains dismantled plaques awarded to Gourdine from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Edisto District of the Women's Missionary Society, and the Order of the Eastern Star, Poinsetta Chapter.


  • Creation: 1880-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1996

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the Avery Research Center's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Avery Research Center claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Julia Waites Alston Gourdine (1923-2009) was born in Charleston, South Carolina to Addie Middleton and Waties Randolph Alston. She graduated from the Burke Industrial School in 1941. In 1944, Julia Alston married Robert Holmes Gourdine, Jr. and had one son, Robert H. Gourdine, III. Alston Gourdine matriculated to Immaculate Conception School taking business courses from 1945 to 1946. She graduated from Allen University in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.

Alston Gourdine taught at several Charleston County School District elementary schools, including Buist and the Columbus Street School (renamed Wilmot Frazier Elementary School). Active in civic, social and religious organizations, Gourdine was affiliated with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Gamma Xi Omega Chapter; the L'Allegros Social Club; and the La Finnesse and Le Cercle Des Femmes Bridge Clubs, among others. Notably, Gourdine was a dedicated Senior Trustee Board member of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, serving on the board as secretary for over twenty years. In conjunction with her church membership, Gourdine and her mother, Addie Alston served with the Woman's Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Edisto District and the Order of the Eastern Star, Poinsetta Chapter.

Julia Alston Gourdine passed on June 25, 2009.


5.5 linear feet (12 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



Julia Waites Alston Gourdine (1923-2009), an African-American elementary school educator who worked in the Charleston County School District for thirty-five years. Alston Gourdine was also an integral Senior Trustee Board member of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. She married Robert H. Gourdine, Jr. in 1944, and they had one son, Robert H. Gourdine, III.

The collection contains documents and photographs relating to Gourdine's education, professional, civic and social affiliations, along with materials and photographs belonging to several of her family members including her mother, Addie Middleton Alston. The majority of the collection contains materials pertaining to "Mother" Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and is reflective of Gourdine's position of secretary on the Senior Trustee Board.

Collection Arrangement

1. Biographical Records, 1938-2000, and undated

2. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1950-1996, and undated

3. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1907-1996, and undated

4. Artifacts, 2000-2002

Acquisitions Information

Received from Lee Lazarus, on behalf of the Julia Alston Gourdine Estate

Processing Information

Processed by Georgette Mayo, 05, 2014

Edited by Aaron Spelbring, 05, 2014

Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, 05, 2014

Inventory of the Julia Alston Gourdine Papers AMN 1130
Finding aid prepared by Georgette Mayo
May 2014
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States